At the waters’ surface, GPS indicates the location of the buoy. A precision of satellite and sea. The buoy sits at the top of a rope that sinks 38 metres below sea level, strung with fronds of daun nipah all the way down to the rumah ikan on the sea floor. After two weeks in the water, rumah ikan takes on a new smell, advertising its presence, welcoming all in. Plankton, crustacea, molluscs, small fish and bigger fish congregate, tantalised by the waving nipah, and its opportunities for shelter, food, hiding and hunting, Pak Uning hunting at the water’s surface using pancing (a rod).
Before GPS Pak Uning says, he’d orientate himself using land references - cross-referencing mountains and capes.
In the open sea, with no reef or rock, it’s difficult for ikan to stop and take cover. When you build something the fish will stay there and hunt small fish playing near the daun nipah. After two weeks the daun nipah doesn’t smell good but the fish like it.